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12 to Midnight

Art Report

01.26.07 | 1 Comment

One of my many hats at 12 to Midnight is art director. While this is a fun job, it’s also rather time consuming. I have to decide on a cover image that conveys the mood of the title without giving away important elements of the plot. I also have to plan interior art, which is harder than it sounds. You have to be careful to evenly space the art throughout the book. You don’t want two pieces of art back to back–or even worse, falling on the same page–followed by ten pages of nothing. So part of my job is to plan out the art and write up descriptions for the artists to work from. Each description used to take me 45 minutes, but I’ve gotten faster with more experience.

It also helps that I’ve finally assembled a set of talented freelance artists I can trust to do the job without micromanaging. Okay…maybe I’ve just gotten better about allowing the artists’ visions to show through without having to have it my way. Whatever the case, I thought you’d be interested to see covers from two upcoming titles. Both are by the talented Nicole Cardiff. Clicking on either thumbnail will bring up a larger version.

cover of the adventure Wild ThingsWild Things is our very first fantasy adventure, and we’ll be releasing the d20 version next week and the Savaged edition as soon as it’s approved by Pinnacle. This image was created in November, but delays in other parts of the book pushed the release too close to Christmas so we decided to hold it until after people had a chance to recover from holiday spending. I went back and tinkered with the tint of the glow around the title and added the stock number after this thumbnail was created, but what you see is very close to what you’ll get when you buy the PDF.

The cover design was inspired by 1970’s designs of books like Conan and Tarzan. This is a variation on 12 to Midnight’s standard trade dress, in which a full page image is bordered by a half-inch black border. Nicole painted a full page image, but I warned her that I’d be going in and digitally cropping out the upper portion of the cave. The only thing that doesn’t work well with this design is that I had to put the stock number at the bottom right instead of the top.

cover for the Beast WithinThe second cover is for The Beast Within. Up until the last minute, I had the word “The” in the title, but I dropped it in favor of making the words on the title larger. This was a difficult title for which to develop a cover because the nature of the mystery cut out a lot of the more dramatic options. I eventually settled on playing off the title itself. I liked the idea of showing someone with a dual appearance– the outwardly normal part and “the beast within”. For inspiration I looked to the classic Batman villain Two-Face. A quick web search brought up some absolutely beautiful renditions of the villain, but that raised a new problem. How to show a dual-natured character in a fresh way? I presented the problem to Nicole, and one of her very first ideas was the cover you see before you. At full size it is a beautiful piece. Looking at it now, I kind of wish we’d made the “beastly” side a more contrasting color so that it would stand out better as a thumbnail. But that’s a minor quibble. It’s a great piece of art. This is the third cover Nicole has done for us, and I feel like each one is better than the one before.

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1 Comment

Comment by Jason
2007-01-26 18:51:03

Cool stuff!

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